Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Other Blogs: A Reply to Gitabushi on A Princess of Mars

Edit-Darn it! The link didn't stick!
Link added.
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Over at another blog Gitabushi is talking about A Princess of Mars and, well.
I'm replying.
Let's just dive in, shall we?

Gitabushi starts off with,
"I read [A Princess of Mars] the first time in my teens, and liked it okay. I think I read some of the sequels but got bored with it. But I can’t remember. And that should tell you something."
That Gitabushi has a lousy memory? Forgetfulness on the part of the reviewer is not something that fills me with confidence in their ability to review!

They continue,
"I re-read “A Princess of Mars” when the movie “John Carter” came out. I was disappointed then, because I was reading it with a reading standard of Lois McMasters-Bujold, Steven Brust, CJ Cherryh, Lee Child, Robert Heinlein, Niven/Pournelle, and many other more modern writers. And to be blunt, it doesn’t measure up to the more advanced versions of SFF in terms of plot, characterization, science, etc."
He thinks Brust's "science" is more on point? That Heinlein has better characters? HEINLEIN?! I appreciate that Gitabushi admits to trying to read the book from a "pulp viewpoint" later, but this strikes me as a litany of 'I mistake contemporary with better'.

After re-reading APoM while thinking 'pulpy', the response is,
"There are too many times that things work out for John Carter just because ERB wanted them to. Some of the plot developments are rather contrived."
I think this means Gitabushi has never read Ringworld, A Stranger in a Strange Land, Falkenberg's Legion (inclusive), The Phoenix Guards, Heavy Time, Glory Road, etc.
Well. Maybe Gitabushu did read these books and their plots but, you know. Forgot.

Gitabushi also criticized one plot development,
"John Carter had to wait until almost literally the last minute before he realized he had the key to save the planet was a pretty ham-handed method of adding dramatic tension."
This from the reviewer that started with the review by admitting that they simply can't remember if they read some books or not.
'You know, I just can't remember'
Followed six paragraphs later with,
'I find it unbelievable that a character just couldn't remember'.
That is grade A humor.

Gitabushi then critiques the science of the planetary romance. Personally, I assumed that the 8th and 9th rays just prove Barsoom is in another dimension, but even if that is not the case, meh. Gitabushi can knock the details of anti-gravity all they like.
Then,
"And the idea that John Carter could successfully mate with a being that lays eggs, and whose very internal organs are different, defies even the most generous of disbelief suspensions."
This is funny to me. See, the Martians were advanced enough in biotech that as mammals essentially indistinguishable from humans (their heart is in the same spot as a human, etc.) they genetically engineered themselves to be oviparous.
Let me repeat that: A Princess of Mars talks about how the people of Barsoom, viviparous mammals, genetically engineered themselves to be oviparous. That is a pretty sophisticated level of biological science, in my opinion, and I think such technology would make genetically engineering a hybrid relatively simple.
Maybe Gitabushi forgot that snippet of information, or missed the implications. The sequels go into greater detail about the incredibly advanced Barsoomian biotechnology....

I have been a bit rough with Gitabushi. The discussion of how ERB approached race are solid and showed that they picked up the outlines of what Burroughs was saying, if a lot of detail was lost because of the time that has passed. As much as I am tweaking Gitabushi above, they did well with the review, I just think they missed a lot.

sigh

Looks like I have to do a full review of A Princess of Mars.